Ross Detwiler tossed four strong innings against the Tigers.
Aside from those blasts, though, the two most interesting developments of the day probably were Ross Detwiler's return to the mound for the first time since pitching in the World Baseball Classic and Jhonatan Solano's surprise appearance in left field for the eighth and ninth innings.
Let's start with Detwiler, who nine days after tossing four scoreless innings of relief for Team USA in a win over Italy picked up right where he left off. Getting the start against Detroit's fearsome lineup, the left-hander impressed over the course of four innings. His only mistake: a first-inning homer by Torii Hunter that cleared the berm beyond the left-field fence, though Detwiler insisted it wasn't a particularly bad pitch on his part, over the plate but down in the zone.
Regardless, Detwiler said he definitely took something out of this start, not necessarily a typical Grapefruit League outing considering the quality of the opposition.
"That's a ridiculous lineup," he said. "I mean, you've got to focus on keeping the ball down or you're going to have to throw with an 'L screen' out there [to avoid getting smoked by comebackers]."
Detwiler threw only 57 pitches and said he felt like he had plenty left in the tank after four innings, but pitching coach Steve McCatty didn't want to take any chances after the long layoff, so the left-hander instead went to the bullpen and threw an additional 15 pitches before calling it a day.
He also insisted he didn't approach this exhibition game any differently than he approached his competitive game in the WBC last weekend.
"I don't think it was that different," he said. "I kind of had the same mentality: just to go out there and throw strikes and get ahead. That's something I want to focus on this year."
Detwiler had long since departed by the time the eighth inning rolled around and a surprise figure took over in left field. Yes, that was indeed Solano shifting from catcher to left field for the final frame.
How did that happen? Well, Micah Owings (who had been in left field all day) has been dealing with a tight quadriceps, so Davey Johnson didn't want to risk it getting any worse. Except the only player he had left on his bench was Carlos Maldonado, also a catcher (who doesn't really strike me as the type who could handle the outfield).
So Johnson asked Solano if he could play left field. Solano -- who later admitted he'd never spent a single inning in the outfield in his life, not even as a child -- insisted to his manager he could. So he grabbed Moore's glove and took his position out there.
"I see the opportunity to enjoy another position," he said. "Why not?"
Sure enough, though, the ball quickly found Solano. It was a routine flyball -- well, routine for anyone who'd ever played the outfield before -- but he handled it like a vet even though his innards were doing somersaults.
"The first fly ball I said: 'Oh my God. It's coming to me!'" Solano recalled with a laugh.
The man affectionately known to teammates as "The Onion" really got a workout in the ninth inning, with four balls hit in his direction, two of them flyouts.
Johnson didn't seem to understand what the fuss was all about.
"If I can put Brian McCann out there in the World Baseball Cup, I can put Solano out there in spring training game!" the manager quipped.
Don't look for Solano to start getting regular playing time in the outfield. But he certainly soaked in the experience on this day.
"Wow, it's not too easy," he said. "But I enjoyed it so much."
(Note: I'm leaving Nats camp on Monday for a family matter, but Chase Hughes will keep you up to date on any developments. I'll be back in Viera on Tuesday.)